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Nostalgic Light Justin Nevill; Journal of Images, Summer 2012 Introduction to the Visual Arts, ARTS 1301 Austin Community College - P. King, Professor.

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Presentation on theme: "Nostalgic Light Justin Nevill; Journal of Images, Summer 2012 Introduction to the Visual Arts, ARTS 1301 Austin Community College - P. King, Professor."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nostalgic Light Justin Nevill; Journal of Images, Summer 2012 Introduction to the Visual Arts, ARTS 1301 Austin Community College - P. King, Professor

2 Reflection: Nostalgic Light When I was seven, my family moved from an established neighborhood to a new home outside of town. It wasnt very far from the city limits, but to my juvenile mind it might as well have been literally in the middle of nowhere. The new location offered a seemingly infinite forest to explore, unknown and mysterious wild animals, and unreliable electrical service. My parents adapted. If it was cold when we lost power, we would use the fireplace for heat – on occasion they might supplement with a portable heater. Lighting also had to be addressed – it turns out that little can be done comfortably by candlelight. Kerosene lamps became the standby for producing light without electricity. One kerosene lamp provides enough light to make just about any room navigable at night and several in a single room can make it bright enough for most tasks. The light they provide is soft and warm with a gentle rhythm from the flame. And quiet. Living in the city as I do now, it is hard to notice the constant electrical hum all around that contributes to the background noise of my life, but away from the city and without electricity the quiet is amazing. When I experience it now, my mind and my ears have to adjust The electrical service at my parents house improved since I left home. Kerosene lamps are now much less of a necessity for them and they recently passed some of their collection to me. Over the last decade Ive had little need for non-electric lighting, but Ive gladly accepted the lamps and the fond associations they bring with them. Our nostalgia for simpler days would likely seem misplaced by anyone who actually experienced life without electricity, mass production, or instant communication, but our reaction is completely natural. For the modern American, many of the stressors and demands of everyday life would not be possible without current technology; conference calls, calls from telemarketers or creditors, urgent emails, and even social media add to our anxiety. Life may not have actually been easier when gardening, canning, knitting, sewing, non-electric light and hand-written letters were a necessity, but turning to these things allows us to take a break from the demands of contemporary life. What was once a chore is now recreation. I have no wish to forgo electricity and live in the woods, but I am nostalgic for those quiet evenings in the woods when it seemed there was nothing that could be done outside of reading or playing games. I have come to associate those quiet evenings with the light from kerosene lamps more than anything else. Modern life can run at such a constant, fast pace that we seldom stop to appreciate simpler things, but the contrast can make them even more rewarding..

3 Many of the activities I associate with a break from everyday life involve a change in lighting. For me, the light from a kerosene lamp has emotional ties to many of them: evenings by the fireplace, candle-lit dinners, and shared moments by a campfire. I have found that merely changing the lighting affects my mood and immediate concerns. Of course my association between lighting and emotion seems natural to me, but I also believe that these associations are nearly instinctive for all of us. The various quantities and qualities of light have long been associated with human emotion. Scary and sad things are dark. Sunny days are the trademark of happiness. Overcast, grey days are gloomy. In our modern society (where we spend so much time sitting under fluorescent lights of unnatural hues staring at illuminated screens), warm, gentle light produced without electricity is both quaint and comforting. Light from a kerosene lamp can produce nostalgia for quiet, cozy nights – even for those of us who have only experienced it briefly. In making this collection of images, I sought to explore the quality of light from kerosene lamps, using them as both my subject and sole source of illumination. My hope is that these pictures communicate both the beauty of the lamps and the idea that we can take some time to get away from our busy digital lives – even without going anywhere.

4 Texture The contrasting textures of the glass, rust, leather, cloth, and wood provide visual interest and make this image almost tactile.

5 Movement The figures poised for action, outreached hand, and linear shadows provide a sense of movement within this image.

6 Variety The variety of colors, shapes, and heights invite the viewer to explore these lamps.

7 Emphasis Strong directional lighting and sparse use of color emphasize the subject.

8 Rhythm The repeating image of the lamp and ironwork detail create a sense of rhythm.

9 Shape The organic shapes of the shadows cast by these lamps enliven the scene.

10 Color The bronze color of the elements in this group echo the warm hue of the light from kerosene lamps.

11 Balance The strong formal balance of this card game encourages the viewer to compare both sides.

12 Value The play of values cast by this shadow puppet project a sense of order and chaos.

13 Space A framed mirror and pair of lamps create a space through which we see the bed.

14 Index of Images Title image. Profile of Darien reading, Austin, TX, June 11, 2012. Reflection image. Collection of kerosene lamps from above, Austin, TX, June 10, 2012. Texture. Rusted lamp and books, Austin, TX, June 10, 2012. Movement. Chess board in action, Austin, TX, June 11, 2012. Variety. Collection of kerosene lamps on shipping trunk, Austin, TX, June 10, 2012. Emphasis. Justin eating soup, Austin, TX, June 14, 2012. Rhythm. Repeating kerosene lamp with ironwork, Austin, TX, June 14, 2012. Shape. Darien reading with constructive shadows, Austin, TX, June 11, 2012. Color. Buddha with glass grapes, Austin, TX, June 15, 2012. Balance. Card game, Austin, TX, June 15, 2012. Value. Shadow puppet, Austin, TX, June 16, 2012. Space. Dogs resting on bed, Austin, TX, June 14, 2012. Available online at: Download as PowerPoint Presentation at:

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